Self-awareness Creates Conscious Choice for Leaders

Are leaders born or made? I believe we are all born with innate strengths and styles. I also believe that leaders are made when they consciously put those innate strengths and styles to good use and mitigate weakness by surrounding themselves with people that bring needed balancing qualities to their teams.  I believe greatleaders emerge when leaders empower those around them to use those balancing qualities to create impactful results. The ability to humbly acknowledge your strengths and recognize your limitations while actively seeking out others who offset your limitations requires a high degree of self-awareness.


Self-awareness entails knowing the areas in which you excel and where you don’t, where you need help, and what kind of situations are easy or difficult for you. Leaders who are self-aware actively pursue and value personal and professional development, have a developed sense of purpose, act from internalized set of values, and consistently embody those values. By forming teams that have diverse strengths and creating a climate where speaking your truth is encouraged, self-aware leaders receive reliable feedback about how they are performing and a clear understanding of how others perceive them.


Self-aware leaders are not perfect. They know it, accept it and have made peace with their imperfections. Perhaps more important, they are less likely to deny the weak and undeveloped parts of themselves. They accept that these aspects exist, admit it when they make a mistake or hurt others, and use these experiences to grow and improve. They are also less defensive when criticized by others and embrace the idea that someone else may have a better solution.  This cultivates an organizational culture that allows a leader to engage honestly and compassionately with their team.


Self-aware leaders are not defined by their own success or intimidated by the success of others. This allows them to create teams of highly capable people, empower those teams, and celebrate their achievements. Korn Ferry Hay Group research found that among leaders with multiple strengths in Emotional Self-Awareness, 92% had teams with high energy and high performance. Self-aware leaders create a positive emotional climate that encourages motivation and initiative. In sharp contrast, leaders low in Emotional Self-Awareness created negative climates 78% of the time.


Leaders who are lacking self-awareness are likely feeling out of balance because their inner lives and outer lives are not congruent. They may be reacting to life as it comes rather than creating a life that is an expression of what matters most to them. Without self-awareness, leaders typically define themselves in terms of expectations of others. These leaders find themselves playing unfulfilling roles in life and work rather than courageously acting from their authentic principles.  Without self-awareness, it is hard to know when your emotions are hijacking your judgment, difficult to get an accurate sense of how your words and behavior are impacting others, and almost impossible to identify what you need to further develop as a leader.


Becoming a high-performing leader requires self-awareness. Here are 10 guiding principles for follow:


  1. Commit to personal and professional development and seek out allies such as mentors, teachers, and coaches.

  2. Embark on a journey of self-discovery through assessments such as the CliftonStrengths® (formerly known as StrengthsFinder®), the DiSC® Profile, or the Leadership Circle Profile™. (Learn about our assessments services)

  3. Request honest and candid feedback from a trusted advisor. Ask these questions: What do you see as my strengths? What is the general perception of me? What might be a blind spot for me? What do I need to work on to become a more effective leader?

  4. Take time for self-reflection. This requires getting still and quiet. Ask yourself – Was my impact as a leader today positive, negative, or neutral?

  5. Stop blaming others and expecting them to do most of the changing.

  6. Get connected to your life’s purpose and begin to live it – even in small ways.

  7. Identify your core values and create opportunities to express them daily.

  8. Own your weaknesses and mistakes and commit to improving.

  9. Surround yourself with people who have good intentions and sincerely want to help you be successful.

  10. Stay curious and notice when there is a need to change your personal or managerial behavior.


Self-awareness is a continuous endeavor and gives leaders many more choices in how they work and live. It provides the freedom to make a conscious choice about how you relate with others, the choice to ask for feedback and graciously make improvements, and the choice to lead authentically by aligning your core values with your actions. Every moment is an opportunity to be either self-aware or not.


Grow with purpose.

Where should we send your guide?

Afterwards, check your email to confirm your download. 

Thank you! Check your email in a few minutes to confirm your download.

Where should we send your guide?

Afterwards, check your email to confirm your download. 

Thank you! Check your email in a few minutes to confirm your download.

Where should we send your guide?

Afterwards, check your email to confirm your download. 

Thank you! Check your email in a few minutes to confirm your download.

Free Guide: Creating Intelligent Change

Change can be difficult and people often resist it. If your team is not prepared for change, keeping up with the pace of change, and willing to embrace change, your organization risks becoming irrelevant. This guide is intended to provide a framework for intentionally talking about the change you want to create, ensure the roles that are vital to the change process are clearly understood, and to define the conditions necessary for creating intelligent change. 

Thank you! Check your email in a few minutes to confirm your download.

Free Guide: A Guide to Legacy Leadership

Your leadership legacy is the impact and influence you have on others over your tenure as a leader and it is formed by the guiding principles you apply most consistently to your decisions and actions.


Thank you! Check your email momentarily for your guide.